« PreviousContinue »
questions of this nature if two intelligent persons sat down together, one, an Englishman, representing the Imperial authority, with a sincere desire to concede to an Irish Parliament everything that was necessary to give it complete independence in the management of Irish affairs; the other, an Irishman, representing Ireland, with an equally sincere desire to give the Imperial Parliament all powers that would be necessary for the safety and stability of Imperial power.
CONSTITUTION AND POWERS OF THE IRISH PARLIAMENT.
It is obvious that it would not be possible, even were it desirable, to restore the constitution of the Irish Parliament as it existed before the Union. The franchises of most of the close boroughs have long since been numbered with the things that were. Their corporations or their freeholders have long since ceased to exist. It would be difficult to trace even the boundaries of many of the ancient boroughs; there might, I believe, be one or two instances in which it would require some little research to identify their site.
I would myself earnestly wish that the constitution of an Irish Parliament should be the act of the Irish people themselves. I would prefer the plan of sending writs to every one of the old constituencies, leaving it to the “commonalty” to elect the members by household suffrage in every place in which the select body that had usurped the old rights had disappeared. A House of Commons so elected would not be an adequate representation of the people of Ireland, if representation is to be judged by a distribution of members in proportion to population. It would, after all, supply a very fair representation of all classes in the country, and would, I believe, honestly and fairly enter on the task of constructing a system of Irish representation upon a sounder and a wider basis.
questions of this nature if two typer TOE TE TRIOTT together, one, an Englishmait, . DE VER : IE 'SE Meentom authority, with a sincere desire te ORTEIL: I JE ment everything that was necesi IL DITF I TOL. dl. TE pendence in the management w TE IN STRITETE. Irishman, representing Ireland, isto UNAT I EL inget 1 to give the Imperial Parliamei necessary for the safety and stal.....
mer meus o I Fitte *** deciin. te ICE TRUE
IKH: 1ibe JUBETRIA
course, a sotias
in Ireland district im
Such a plan must probably be classed among the visionary projects of constitutional action which the present generation is too wise to entertain. The constitution of the new Irish Parliament must, I am afraid, derive its form as well as its authority from an Act of the Imperial Parliament. The general principles of its constitution it is not difficult to suggest.
To constitute an Irish Parliament members of the House of Commons should be chosen by an election perfectly distinct from that of representatives to the Imperial Parliament.
The Irish House of Commons ought to be numerous enough to constitute a really popular assemblage.
Any one who will take up Thom's Almanac will have no difficulty in finding in Ireland abundant materials for the formation of constituencies that could easily return such a body. The exact allocation of members is, of course, a subject which it would be folly in suggestions of this kind to determine. I can only say that if in addition to the county members, members were returned from every town in Ireland having a population of more than 3,000, every district in Ireland would be fairly and adequately represented. In some few instances it might be desirable to group together towns, so as to give a fair share of borough representation to counties in which (such is the condition of Ireland) there are no considerable towns. In others such a grouping might be advantageous on other grounds. Districts in the neighbourhood of the metropolis, and in some other parts of Ireland, should be formed into boroughs, and thus with representatives from the Universities, and possibly from the Colleges of Physicians and Surgeons, and some other bodies of that nature, we could easily frame a constituency for a House of Commons fairly representing the Irish nation.
In presenting a plan of Federalism such as I hope and believe the Irish nation will, ere long, present to the Imperial